Improved cognitive function in postmenopausal women after 12 weeks of consumption of a soya extract containing isoflavones

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2003 Jun;75(3):721-9. doi: 10.1016/s0091-3057(03)00116-3.


We previously reported that a high soya diet improved memory and frontal lobe function in young volunteers, and since soya isoflavones are agonists at oestrogen receptors, they may improve these functions in postmenopausal women. Thirty-three postmenopausal women (50-65 years) not receiving conventional hormone replacement therapy (HRT) were randomly allocated in a double-blind parallel study to receive a soya supplement (60 mg total isoflavone equivalents/day) or placebo for 12 weeks. They received a battery of cognitive tests and completed analogue rating scales of mood and sleepiness, and a menopausal symptoms questionnaire before the start of treatment and then after 12 weeks of treatment. Those receiving the isoflavone supplement showed significantly greater improvements in recall of pictures and in a sustained attention task. The groups did not differ in their ability to learn rules, but the isoflavone supplement group showed significantly greater improvements in learning rule reversals. They also showed significantly greater improvement in a planning task. There was no effect of treatment on menopausal symptoms, self-ratings of mood, bodily symptoms or sleepiness. Thus, significant cognitive improvements in postmenopausal women can be gained from 12 weeks of consumption of a supplement containing soya isoflavones that are independent of any changes in menopausal symptoms, mood or sleepiness.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isoflavones / administration & dosage*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nootropic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage
  • Postmenopause / drug effects*
  • Postmenopause / physiology
  • Postmenopause / psychology
  • Soybean Oil / administration & dosage*


  • Isoflavones
  • Nootropic Agents
  • Plant Extracts
  • Soybean Oil